tv MSNBC News Live MSNBC March 13, 2011 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT
including one where officials fear a partial melt-down could be taking place. more than 12,000 people have been evacuated. and officials say at least 1200 people were killed but the police chief of the miyagi prefecture says the death toll could surpass 10,000. we want to get more on the tense situation at the power plants. robert bazell has the latest from tokyo and joins me on the phone. bob, what's the latest you are hearing about what's taking place at the nuclear plants? >> reporter: well, the nuclear power plants are all headed toward what they hope will be a gradual cool-down. the biggest problem is what's called unit number 3. at that place they are pumping sea water in to try to cool down the nuclear material. there was a little bit of a hitch today in the sense that the energy secretary said they
were pouring in sea water but the gauge didn't indicate the sea water was going up. that led to the possibility that there might be another explosion. we should point out that nothing is happening at the nuclear power plants that's anywhere near chernobyl or what almost happened at three mile island years before that. radioactive material has been released into the environment. people have been evacuated but it is not chernobyl. thomas? >> what are you seeing as you venture out during the day there in tokyo -- the extent of the damage? >> reporter: in tokyo there is no damage whatsoever. tokyo is absolutely intact. the beautiful clean city it always has been. people talk about the earthquake. they have loved ones in the affected area, but tokyo itself is calm. it's a late sunday now in tokyo, but all day long here it's been
business as usual. and the roads got back to normal and everything else. tokyo -- it shook here but don't forget there are enormous numbers of earthquakes in japan. people are not completely terrified every time there is an earthquake. it happens a lot. it's just that this earthquake was one of the most powerful ones ever recorded. one of the interesting things when you get back to the nuclear power plants, thomas, is the nuclear power plants were designed to with stand earthquakes that were five times less powerful than the one that hit them. they weren't designed to sustain a tsunami at the same time. you have to ask was the planning correct here? that's easier in hindsight, but was it correct in terms of safety measures. >> bob, thank you very much. appreciate it. the situation with japan's nuclear reactor brings to mind for a lot of people the 1986 chernobyl disaster in russia and
1979's three mile island disaster in pennsylvania. joining me on the phone is dick thornburg who was governor of pennsylvania during the three mile island crisis. what has been going through your head as you watch the events unfolding in japan and the talk and fear about the nuclear reactors there? >> there is clearly an eary similarity between what happened at three mille island and what the japanese are dealing with. but there are significant differences. mercifully we didn't have to deal at three mile island with the consequences of a record earthquake and aftershocks and a tsunami which caused so much damage in that area. but the technical challenges are the same. as you have noted the object is to get the reactor to a cold shut-down by reducing the pressure and circulating cooling water to prevent uncovering the radioactive core. that's the be all and end all of
this effort. >> when you were faced with what happened at threele mi mile isl how did you approach the situation? >> the major difficulty was in getting reliable facts. first of all, we found very quickly that we were not getting a true picture from the utility that operated the facility. we abandoned them as a source and began to cast about for other sources of information. wasn't until we were in the third day that the arrival of harold denton from the nuclear regulatory commission who was the true hero at three mile island gave us the assurance that we were getting fact that is we needed in order to make key decisions. i don't care how good a decision-maker you are. if you don't have the right facts it's not going to prevail. >> sir, when you would -- as you're watching this, what is the advice that you would want to impart to japanese officials that are now having to assess this disaster? >> probably the key thing is just to keep pushing and in
effect cross examining every possible source in order to get a reliable set of facts you can use to make decisions. there are involved technical questions here that you require the need of experts and obviously they have flooded the area with all kinds of expertise and advice. but it's when it comes to making difficult decisions like i'm sure the decision to evacuate was you've got to be sure that you've got a firm grip on precisely what's going on. >> for a lot of people watching this, they are reminded that there are 104 nuclear power plants in america. does the situation in japan change your perspective at all about nuclear energy and its uses in america? >> i think it's just another wake-up call of the need for care since the threele mile island accident. the industry and regulators have been more attentive to safety questions. but that doesn't assure that we
couldn't face unforeseen accident here. mercifully it would not be in the form of earthquakes and tsunamis. because the equipment failure and human error caused the three mile island accident. that's what our principal focus of concern has to be. >> president jimmy carter visited three mile island. what did that visit do to change perceptions about what took place there? >> it was very important. i feel grateful to president carter. he's a democrat and i'm a republican, but you put politics to the side when you deal with this kind of challenge. i was grateful he and mrs. carter came after the accident, toured the plant and helped reassure people that the situation was on its way to resolved. >> thanks for coming on. we appreciate your time and insight. you have one of the more interesting perspectives from someone that had to live through assessing a situation so similar to what we are seeing in japan.
thanks again. >> thank you. >> the u.s. gets roughly 20% of energy from nuclear power and there have been calls from both sides of the isaisle to increas the number. in the wake of the disaster chuck todd asked chuck schumer if he's rethinking that position. >> we're going to have to see what happens here obviously. it's still -- still things are happening, but the bottom line is we do have to free ourselves of independence from foreign oil and the other half of the globe. libya showed that. prices are up. our economy is hurt by it or could be hurt by it. i'm willing to look at nuclear. it has to be done safely and carefully. >> let's bring in nbc news white house correspondent mike viqueira. where does the energy debate stand as we move into the new work week in washington, d.c., especially based on what we are seeing coming out of japan? >> reporter: it's interesting. it's a matter of energy policy and politics as well. it was just a day before
yesterday, thomas, when the president of the united states at a press conference friday here at the executive office building listed nuclear power as something he wanted to pursue expanding this country's reliance on nuclear power for electricity. that ek dos policy statements made in the last two state of the union addresses and the blueprint he laid out where you can see where the rubber meets the road. $36 billion for loan guarantees to site new nuclear plants in this country was contained in the budget proposal for next year. it's a political issue. no new nuclear plants were sited in this country or the licenses weren't granted for some 30 years before 2009. a large part of that is the result of what happened in 1979 as you were talking about with governor thornburgh there and chernobyl. the fears of nuclear power were so great that it's been some time, a long time -- obviously
30 years -- before the ball has gotten rolling again. you mentioned there are 104 nuclear plants in this country. there are going to be more. the permit process did loosen up. funding is under way for several in the united states and some 65 worldwide now nuclear power enjoying a renaissance in the past few years now as the united states and other countries look for energy independence. you mentioned 20% of electricity comes from nuclear power. the question is how much are these events going to remind everybody what they were afraid of and how far will this set back the effort to site new nuclear plants and derive more electrical power from that source. >> thank you, mike. at airports nationwide many are breathing a sigh of relief as family and friends return from japan. many say the experience was terrifying but they were not aware of the scope and magnitude of the devastation. >> i have never experienced such
an out of feeling control in my life where everything is moving and you don't know what's happening. >> it was a big one. lasted three minutes. we didn't think it was that bad until we started going to stores and looking at tvs of how bad it was. >> the state department is advising americans to avoid nonessential travel to japan until april 1. in libya, moammar gadhafi's forces continue to reclaim territory from the rebels trying to oust the long-time leader. libyan state tv is reporting pro-gadhafi forces have retaken a keyle oil town in the east. jim maceda is covering the story. what's the latest on the ground from there? >> reporter: hi, thomas. well, the latest is that this push continues. the punishment, the relentless attacks by ground, by sea and by air continue by pro-gadhafi forces against rebels who are no match for what they are facing. at this point, it's very
difficult to pinpoint where exactly the front line is because this movement eastward now in 180 degrees opposite direction from a week ago is moving so quickly. you mentioned the key oil port of braga. that's 100 miles to the east of where the front line was yesterday after pro-gadhafi forces launched an amphibious assault into ras lanouf. within hours they had moved a hundred miles to the east. today we learned that the rebels have now fled baraga as a result of the government forces' attack. they are now around ajdabiya, the last line of defense before benghazi. then we are back to where we were two weeks ago when the rebels, feeling confident at the
time, because the pro gadhafi forces were biding their time and feeling confused, they moved s quickly within a number of days from benghazi to a hundred miles east of us here. that's been flipped on its ear to the point where now the government itself, the regime members say, the son of gadhafi has said they will goal all the way into benghazi, take the time and a no-fly zone could be moot within days. >> jim, we hear the arab league called for the u.n. to establish a no-fly zone. how significant is that. >> reporter: it's significant from a symbolic point of view, no doubt. it's the first time it's happened. it's unprecedented in that all 22 arab nations within the arab league agreed on something as sensitive as a no-fly zone.
we know how sensitive countries are about the zone being applied to their country. the fact that there was regional agreement, that was one of three key conditions laid out by nato in brussels. nato now has that one key condition. the other conditions aren't out there. the united states is still very keen to get complete international agreement meaning all five members of the u.n. security council agree on this. we know two veto members, russia and china, are against any military intervention. this is not likely to happen at this point. back to you. >> thank you, jim. the threat of a nuclear tragedy in japan has many wondering how prepared is the u.s. to avert such a disaster. we'll talk to a senior scientific adviser and find out. and as oil prices rise, families are feeling sticker shock at the pump and in the grocery aisles.
after the break, what consumers can do to save a few bucks as we all watch the costs keep climbing. [ male announcer ] 95% of all americans aren't getting enough whole grain. but actually, it's never been easier to get the whole grain you want from your favorite big g cereals. from cheerios to lucky charms, there's whole grain in every box. make sure to look for the white check. but when i was diagnosed with prostate cancer... i needed a coach. our doctor was great, but with so many tough decisions i felt lost. unitedhealthcare offered us a specially trained rn
this is new video from sendai, japan, where an oil processing facility is on fire two days after the earthquake and tsunami waves struck the city. a company that manufactured steel bars is still burning. police have found as many as 300 bodies on the beaches near sendai. rescuers working to assess damage and they are searching through rubble for possible survivors. though we are seeing scenes of complete devastation in japan, the japanese take disaster preparedness seriously and they have some of the strictest building codes in the world. for more we have dr. david
applegate, a senior adviser at the usgs. how much of a priority do we place as americans on disaster preparedness as compared with those living in other countries? >> well, as you mentioned the japanese have led the way in terms of very large scale public preparedness. we are making efforts here in the u.s. we have now had the great california shake out for the last couple of years. it's an annual exercise involving 8 million people in drop, cover and hold and preparedness activities. in april there will be a great central shakeout, april 28 that will focus on the area at risk from the new madrid seismic zone to try to build awareness there that we have this hazard. of course we have two large subduction zones just like what ruptured off japan, alaska and the pacific northwest. >> i just moved from california to new york.
when i was living in los angeles i swore i would have the earthquake kit. i never got around to packing it. what's the best advice for people in the u.s. to prepare for the potential of a major earthquake. >> well, there is both what the individual can do and of course what the communities can do. at an individual level, things like ready.gov emphasize personal preparedness being able to prepared to be on our own for 72 hours. as we look at the community scale, the state scale, international scale, it comes down to having our buildings and infrastructure ready. that means building codes and the incredible importance. we have seen contrast from haiti to chile and in japan. large areas of japan that were shaken but not destroyed from this event. and the building codes are the most powerful mitigation tool we have. >> a lot of people will be surprised that in the midwest,
also the south, those are areas where there could be problems, correct? people may not realize they are living in an earthquake area. >> we think of california as earthquake country, but earthquakes are a national hazard. part of it is that we think about recent events and not events that are several hundred years old. before the earthquake that struck haiti it was several hundred years before port-au-prince since the last time port-au-prince was destroyed in an earthquake. just because earthquakes don't happen often doesn't mean the consequences are not severe. we are coming up on the by centennial of the sequence of magnitude seven-plus earthquakes that struck the central u.s. around the bootheel of missouri. again, these infrequent but high consequence events are a reminder that we have to be prepared. >> thanks for coming on. we appreciate your time. for more incredible photos from the quake zone we encourage you to log on to msnbc to see incredible reporting there.
there could be a further hike in gas prices. how that might affect what you see in the grocery stores. and tens of thousands of protesters in wisconsin. what will demonstrators do next? i was diagnosed with copd. i could not take a deep breath i noticed i was having trouble. climbing the stairs, working in the garden, painting. my doctor suggested spiriva right then. announcer: spiriva is the only once-daily inhaled maintenance treatment for copd, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. i love what it does. it opens up the airways. announcer: spiriva does not replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms. stop taking spiriva and call your doctor right away if your breathing suddenly worsens, your throat or tongue swells, you get hives, have vision changes or eye pain, or have problems passing urine. tell your doctor if you have glaucoma, problems passing urine, or an enlarged prostate, as these may worsen with spiriva. also, discuss the medicines you take, even eye drops. side effects include dry mouth, constipation, and trouble passing urine.
the disaster in japan is expected to cause a further spike in gas prices due to a surge in demand. high prices at the pumps are pushing up the cost of living for millions of americans, especially in terms of what you fork over in food. a year ago gas was under $3 a gallon. a month ago it was $3.12. now it's pushing $4 and rising. that increased cost is translating directly at the grocery stores for you. what can the average consumer do to fight back? joining me live from los angeles is consumer spending expert andrea warok. >> good afternoon. >> is it purely gas prices driving the rise in costs or do other factors come into play
here? >> that's definitely one of the largest contributions to that. so inflation is causing food prices to rise, but every day consumers can find ways to save. >> according to the latest consumer price index the overalle price of food is expected to go up 3% to 4% in 2011 covering everything from milk, eggs and coffee. what are things people can do to avoid paying through the nose for staples? >> first of all, create a list when you go shopping. you want to avoid impulse purchases, so planning out your meals, look ahead at the week, what you will need. you will cut down on several trips to the store which will save you in gas as well. plan your meal. take the circular from the grocery store to see what's on sale. buy items that are already reduced in prices and stretch the dollar that way. >> dining out is a luxury for people. does this one-two punch -- both
gas and food prices going to send restaurants reeling? >> people will still go out to eat, but it's definitely one way to cut down on food costs is cooking at home and trying to cut down that way. >> all right. i'll cook at home tonight. great to see you. thank you very much. >> oh, thank you. >> it's a long road ahead for international relief forces in japan as workers attempt to stabilize the hardest hit areas and locate the missing people. we'll bring you an update on the progress there. meanwhile in the u.s. officials are assessing the level of destruction to the california coastline. the financial toll rapidly rising. the full damage report next. boy, i'm glad we got aflac huh. aflac! oh, i've just got major medical...
major medical. ...but it helps pay the doctors. pays the doctors, boyyy! [ quack ] oh yeah? what about your family? ♪ [ dad ] we added aflac, so we get cash! it's like our safety net... ♪ to help with the mortgage or whatever we need! so my family doesn't feel the pain too. ha! [ male announcer ] help protect your family at aflac.com. [ pigeons ] heyyy! hooo!!! [ male announcer ] help protect your family at aflac.com. everyone has someone to go heart healthy for. who's your someone? campbell's healthy request can help. low cholesterol, zero grams trans fat, and a healthy level of sodium. it's amazing what soup can do.
between 85,000 and 100,000 people. citizens of northern new jersey are still wading out of a watery mess after last week's rain. the storms washed out homes and forced many to evacuate. emergency officials are now keeping a close eye on the state's waterways and riverbanks. almost 80 people were forced to evacuate a new york hotel on saturday. many complained of feeling dizzy at the hampton inn in west seneca. police discovered a carbon monoxide leak on the scene. several new developments we are following now in japan after the catastrophic earthquake and the tsunami triggered. let's get more on the situation. nbc is following developments out of london for us. >> good afternoon. the three locations that are a problem and concern now. we have fukashima 1 and 2. now in the northeast is another location where the government is saying the radiation levels are higher than permitted.
700 times normal levels. authorities say it's still low and likely to have been caused by the radio activity from the blast at the fukashima plant. it has called a low state of emergency there. sea water is being used to clean at least two reactors to clear them up and cool them down. they are trying to keep temperatures down at unit 3. there has been much talk about explosion there. unit 2 was a problem. they used water to cool it. this comes after a blast yesterday at fuka shrksshima on. expert says the use of sea water shows how serious the problem is. people have fled the area. >> it's the middle of the night in japan. do we have an idea when we may get a new update about whether or not the cooling efforts of using sea water has worked and to alleviate the fears they have? >> things are changing all the time. it is the middle of the night, so things have slowed down.
we are getting minute by minute and hour by hour updates. in terms of the cost of the disaster itself that's estimated at over $35 billion. this doesn't factor in the cost of the effects of the tsunami and the damage that caused. obviously two damaged nuclear reactors as well. >> there is so much more to unfold out of the disaster that took place there. thank you so much. i want to bring you more on the news that the partial melt-down may be under way at least in one nuclear reactor in japan. kirby kemper from florida state university joins us via skype. the problem has been overheating. there hasn't been the power to pump the cooling water into the reaction chamber. what's your reaction when you hear of the secondary plan, seawater being poured into a reactor? >> well, i think it's a smart move on the part of the japanese.
they have to cool it down. they are willing to sacrifice the plant for the safety of everyone concerned in the area. i don't know that there is another choice they have. >> kirby, if the rods, as i understand it, are not cooled and completely melt together the material will then burn into a concrete casement. shouldn't that really be what people are then going to be completely okay and fears alleviated? shouldn't that contain it? >> yeah. as long as the reactor vessel itself isn't breached there should be very little release of radiation. and you're able to monitor so the release is in real time. we have quite a bit of information coming all the time. >> kirby, the earthquake knocked out the electrical grid and tsunami put the backup generators off line. when you think about the design plan in place is there a flaw that they didn't anticipate? >> well, the biggest thing is
whether you have a big enough backup generator and enough oil and/or diesel, whatever you need in order to run the backup generator should such an event happen. i'm sure nobody ever really thought such a tragedy could occ occur. >> japan's nuclear safety agency is rating this event on a four on an international scale of 7. in your estimation and in your professional opinion do you think that's accurate? >> i think that's accurate. you know, people want to compare it to chernobyl, but we really didn't know anything had happened until a station in sweden, i believe it was, had picked up the radiation. here they were on it right away. >> all right, thank you very much. we appreciate you spending time with us today, helping us walk through the situation as we understand it in japan and what they are facing. again, many thanks to you, sir. >> i appreciate your coverage. want to move on to breaking news out of the state department that the spokesperson there,
p.j. crowley has resigned t. departure after reports he called stupid the pentagon's treatment for the u.s. soldier accused of leaking documents that appeared on the wikileaks site. also the president said he has accepted the resignation of p.j. crowley. he's served with distinction for more than three decades in uniform and as a civilian. his service is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and diplomacy and i wish him the best. secretary michael hammer will be serving as acting assistance secretary for public affairs. p.j. crowley issued a statement saying the unauthorized disclosure of classified informations is is a crime. my comments regarding the conditions of the pretrial detention of frooift manning were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discrete actions undertaken
by national security agencies every day and their impact on our standing and leadership. the exercise of power in today's times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with laws and values. again, p.j. crowley stepping down from the state department. we'll have more from the white house on this breaking news coming here on msnbc momentarily. back to the other big news, the relief effort for japan stretching from asia to europe to here in the u.s. including environmental specialists from the u.n. and search teams. south korea, france and the uk are sending equipment and manpower. miguel almaguer has more for us. >> reporter: at u.s. military facilities in japan, relief efforts are under way. 1500 pounds of rice and bread loaded onto seahawk helicopters. the desperately needed food air lifted to cities crippled by the quake. out at sea, the u.s.s. blueridge is on the way, loaded with
supplies, the carrier left singapore friday. >> we are over here to help protect the japanese people. >> reporter: with japan in a state of emergency, more help is coming from around the world. search and rescue teams from 45 countries are ready to respond. south korea, australia, and the united states kingdom have deployed search teams. time is working against them. >> we know there are miraculous survivors, many days after an incident like this. we do know that the longer time goes on the less likely it is we'll find survivors. >> reporter: in fairfax virginia crews loaded supplies joined by a team from los angeles in japan. it was that same crew that pulled a haitian woman from the rubble in port-au-prince, six days after the devastating earthquake there. her story of survival inspired a country. the team will be looking for another miracle, this time in
japan where some 10,000 mayle still be missing. >> to me, it's the right thing to do. as a united states citizen, as a member of the international search and rescue community. >> reporter: back from new zealand, the los angeles team worked side by side there with a rescue crew from japan. now the japanese team is headed home to a disaster that hits home like nothing they have seen before. miguel almaguer, nbc news, san jose, california. >> the big question, what is it like now living in japan right after the devastating quake and tsunami? we'll talk to an american living abroad there up next. and investigators trying to piece together what caused the deadly high speed bus crash in new york. was a crime committed? more on that investigation straight ahead. when you're a stunt woman, work can be pretty unpredictable. from knowing when my next job will be to what i'll actually be doing. so in the rest of my life i like control. especially in my finances. that's why i have slate with blueprint. i can make a plan to pay off everyday things and avoid interest,
mike viqueira has more. it has to do with statements he made regarding wikileaks. >> reporter: this is partly the age in which we live. everyone has access to the internet and can break news all over the place. crowley was at the massachusetts institute of technology addressing a seminar there. this was sometime last week. he was taking q & a and he was asked about private first class bradley manning, the suspected source of the leaks to julian assange and wikileaks. thousands of cables that have come to light over the past few months. here was crowley's answer. he thinks the treatment of manning is, quote, ridiculous, counter productive and stupid. bradley manning is being held in a marine base south of washington. the quantico marine base has been in controversy.
opponents of the way manning has been treated say he's inle solitary confinement. they have been to visit him and it's something of an issue on the web. president obama was asked about crowley's statements at a press conference friday at the white house. the president says he's asked about the treatment of private manning to the authorities at that time pentagon. he was assured that private manning was treated appropriately. he said part of the way in which private manning is being treated is for his own safety. he delined to address what crowley said directly. that's apparently sealed crowley's fate. crowley, the spokesman for hillary clinton whose tweets raare often unusualle. comes out with forceful statements on occasion, particularly over the last couple of months as turmoil has rocked the middle east. he's a former air force colonel
who came on after stints in the clinton administration and now in the obama administration. resigning today from his position as state department spokesman, thomas? >> thank you. i want to show everyone the remarkable and disturbing images from japan. this is a satellite image of the harbor city taken a little while ago in april. now look at the city. the photo taken yesterday. all of the green areas that have replaced houses, massive pockets of standing water. the neighborhoods wiped away and the satellite images came from fwrks geoeye. there is a travel alert for japan. u.s. citizens are advised to stay away from the country. now norita airport is packed with nationals trying to leave japan. others are staying put like dave specter, an american living in tokyo. he joins me now to talk about the situation there.
any chance you will try to leave or are you staying put for good? >> i'm staying put. a lot of people you see leaving are from or close to the devastated areas. i spoke with the u.s. embassy in tokyo earlier and they said there are ab estimated 1300 americans who live in the affected area. they are sending personnel to try to ascertain their safety. there are some chinese and korean individuals who are unaccounted for in those areas. but at this point the americans seem to be fine. >> i know it's the middle of the night there. we appreciate you coming to talk to us. give us what you're feeling still, aftershocks from the quake. when was the last one you felt? >> about 40 minute ago. they are small, about a 3 or a 4. but there is a prediction that within three days there could be a large aftershock. after a tremendous earthquake of this size it is common to have an aftershock that's pretty
close in size which would be a tremendous, large earthquake. now the pictures you have been seeing and that we see in japan are very disturbing. yet at the same time today we are seeing a lot of tearful, emotional reunions, people who finally found their loved ones. people who assumed they would never see their family again are being reunited. a lot of good, successful rescue efforts that are also televised. the television coverage is still 24 hours, constantly covering the earthquake. they are also, as of this evening, they have been showing the tremendous interest around the world. the global coverage of the earthquake. they are showing a great deal of appreciation for the interest shown as well as all the rescue teams that have arrived in japan today. >> there are amazing stories of survival coming out of the tragedy. what are you learning from local reports?
we have been doing a lot of coverage about the damaged nuclear reactors and what's being done to alleviate fears. >> the nuclear reactor is at a very hard to determine situation. it could get worse. it could get a lot better. there is no way of knowing and they tend to downplay these issues. of course this time they really can't downplay it because the world is watching. at the same time, as of tomorrow, about four hours from now. tokyo will have to chip in because there are going to be scheduled blackouts, three hours each in various specific areas of tokyo. this will cause a great deal of confusion tomorrow to commuters and whatnot because it will be monday. yet, there is not enough electricity now because of the reactor problems. now you're seeing yet another difficult time that the japanese will have to face though they have already been through a tsunami and the earthquake and now the nuclear reactor. now they have to go through
power blackouts up until at least april, they are saying. >> all right, dave. thanks again for joining us. i know it's the middle of the night and hopefully you will get some rest. dave spector from tokyo. no charges have been filed but a deadly bus wreck that injured everyone on board and killed 13 is being treated as a criminal investigation. mara schiavocampo joins me with the latest. the investigation seemed to focus on the possible involvement of a tractor-trailer but what are investigators saying now about the bus driver being solely responsible? >> reporter: they say the driver may be a factor here. yesterday, the driver told investigators that he lost control of the bus after swerving to avoid a tractor-trailer. sources tell nbc news some passengers are saying the bus driver was driving erratically before the accident, drifting out of his lane. investigators say they are looking into all of those claims. >> going forward our forensic teams and accident reconstruction teams will be working to interview witnesses
and try to pull together pieces of what occurred here. >> reporter: officials have drawn blood from the driver and are testing it for drugs and alcohol. they have identified a tractor-trailer that was in the area at the time of the accident and say they have possession of a camera that was on the bus and will be looking at the video for clues. this accident happened before 6:00 yesterday morning when the bus was returning from a casino trip to connecticut headed back to chinatown in manhattan. these quick trips take passengers to casinos for a night of gambling and return in the morning. it is unclear how much sleep the driver got and if it played a role in the accident. according to the federal motor carriers safety administration, drivers from the bus company -- worldle wide tours -- have been cited for fatigued driving. the company said they are heartbroken and will cooperate fully with investigators. >> thanks so much. real threats of aftershocks
and nuclear catastrophe in japan. meanwhile in the background, fear looms that the crisis may create a major wring until the world's financial markets. what are analysts predicting? we'll bring you the news investors need to know next. on . >> so you're seriously proposing we change our name to sun life valley. do we still get to go skiing? sooner or later, you'll know our name. sun life financial. but you can still refinance to a fixed rate as low as 4.75% at lendingtree.com. plus, get the best deal or we'll pay you $1,000. call lending tree at... today. aren't getting enough whole grain. but actually, it's never been easier to get the whole grain you want from your favorite big g cereals.
from cheerios to lucky charms, there's whole grain in every box. make sure to look for the white check. and here's what we did today in homes all across america: we created the electricity that powered the alarm clocks and brewed the coffee. we heated the bathwater and gave kelly a cleaner ride to school. cooked the cube steaks and steamed the veggies. entertained dad, and mom, and a neighbor or two. kept watch on the house when they slept. and tomorrow we could do even more. we're cleaner, domestic, abundant and ready now. we're america's natural gas. the smarter power today. learn more at anga.us. ask me.
. welcome back. before the earthquake disaster hit japan, the country was already grappling with serious financial problems. ron insana joins me now to help us figure this one out. give us a sense of japan's economic situation now and how well it's positioned to maybe bounce back and recover? >> there will be a couple months of paralysis to be sure. just in the way after 9/11, our economy effectively froze in place. they have enormous problems. people won't be able to get to work for a period of time. there will be power blackouts and the like. in the short run this will depress their economy. whether or not they can muster a major rebuilding effort will likely stimulate their economy.
>> the crisis in japan, how will that effect the markets when we see them open tomorrow and the u.s. around the globe? >> in japan tonight, there will be a strong reaction to the nikkei. the rest of the world had some time to react on friday. curiously, the u.s. market closed up by 60 points on friday afternoon. oil prices fell because there's expectations that demands for energy in japan will be deducre for a period of time. they won't be able to get oil for a period of time or use it. that could be a further depression on oil in the short run taking some of the inflationary pressures out of the economy. but the concern is as the third largest economy in the world, their problems will depress worldwide growth. it's a double-edged sword now. people are going through bit by bit to determine how this is playing out and the nuclear situation. >> we are showing that video of the nuclear power plants there and the explosion that happened. what effect might a prolonged
nuclear crisis have on the world economy. >> we have few analogs other than chernobyl and three mile island. with chernobyl, wheat prices skyrocketed because so much of the farms were destroyed. you can expect foot shortages and relief efforts on that front if this pispins out of control d then you have to worry about crops and the need for food. that could push food prices higher as energy prices come down. it's hard to sift through this. there are short-term and long-term implications. we will have to take it a step at a time. >> how long before we know the actual real hard numbers about the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami? >> the estimate is $30 billion thus far. so insurance companies have extraordinary liabilities. depends on what happens with the nuclear situation t could go far higher. their there are estimates of
10,000 to 30,000 people who have died. now what happens with these six nuclear reactors, we don't know how bad that will get. that would complicate things immensely. >> also for industry there f there are rolling blackouts, production will be slowed for a lot of manufacturing. >> auto production has been shuttered to a certain extent. japan is one of the biggest manufacturing power houses in the world this will effect their ability to produce goods. they have off-shored some of their manufacturing capacity to china. still, japan will slow materially in the next couple of months to a certain extent, it's like 9/11 and you get seize-up of economic activity that could last weeks or months. we don't know how long it will crimp an already weakened japanese economy. this economy has been in recession 50% of the time in the last 20 years since their big market economy imploded. >> we will keep watching this. great to see you.
thank you very much. we'll have more of our continuing live coverage of the disaster in japan coming up at 3:00 p.m. eastern time. i'm thomas roberts. thanks for joining me. up next, "meet the press" with more on the situation in japan and the impact here in the u.s. a special edition of "dateline" on the japan disaster will air tonight at 7:00 p.m. on msnbc. i do a lot of different kinds of exercise,
but basically, i'm a runner. last year. (oof). i had a bum knee that needed surgery. but it got complicated, because i had an old injury. so i wanted a doctor who had done this before. and unitedhealthcare's database helped me find a surgeon. you know you can't have great legs, if you don't have good knees. we're 78,000 people